Thursday TV: ‘The Woodmans’; Finales for Two Shows

Francesca Woodman grew up in a family of artists, who encouraged her youthful creativity and real achievement in photography, much of it in revealing self-portraits. But enough other things were missing from her life that she committed suicide at age 22.

Tragedy did something to make her photos even more prized in the art world, leading to bigger and bigger exhibitions. C. Scott Willis’ haunting documentary “The Woodmans,” premiering tonight on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), tells her stories through frank discussion with her parents, who have sustained long artistic careers as well as their marriage, her brother, also an artist, and with plenty of excerpts from her journals for the first time. It raises questions of artistic success, finding oneself, parenting and responsibility. At this time of year, it’s kind of a miracle to find something interesting on TV.

The finals for “The X Factor” (Fox, 8 p.m.), like its ratings, have been less than epic. One prize will be way too much ($5 million); the other too little (a Pepsi commercial?). But before Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik or Chris Rene get crowned once and for all tonight, Justin Bieber, Leona Lewis, Pitbull, Ne-Yo and some additional unannounced guests will all perform. And then Simon Cowell may close by apologizing for the whole thing.

“The League” (FX, 10 p.m.) holds a one hour third season season finale that really seems to be two half hour episodes. There’s an hour of “Beavis and Butt-head” (MTV, 10 p.m.) tonight as well.

Laura Bell Bundy hosts “Christmas at Belmont 2011” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings),

Toni Braxton has some news for her family on a new “Braxton Family Values” (WE TV, 9 p.m.).

A two part new version of “Moby Dick” (Encore, 8 p.m.) starring William Hurt as Captain Ahab, which didn’t get much promotion when it premiered in July, gets a one night replay.

First season spin-off “Project Accessory” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.) gets a finale. Lorraine Schwartz is guest judge in the final competition, creating an accessory line, from remaining contestants Rich Sandomeno, Nina Cortes and Brian Burkhardt.

The original “Prep & Landing” (ABC, 8 p.m.) is paired with a replay of this year’s sequel “Prep & Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.). The other “Peanuts” holiday special follows, “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” (ABC, 9 p.m.).

Other holiday fare includes “Santa Clause 3” (ABC Family, 7:30 p.m.), “Christmas Magic” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.), “The Road to Christmas” (Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m.), “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (ABC Family, 9 p.m.), “A Princess for Christmas” (Hallmark, 10 p.m.) and “Under the Mistletoe” (Lifetime Movie Network, 10 p.m.).

Drop me through a trap door: Ratings for the short-time game show “Who’s Still Standing?” (NBC, 8 p.m.) continues to rise as the week goes on.

Turner Classic Movies star of the month William Powell’s best-known role may have been his long-running part with Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in such films as “The Thin Man” (TCM, 8 p.m.), “After the Thin Man” (TCM, 9:45 p.m.), “Another Thin Man” (TCM, 11:45 p.m.), “Shadow of the Thin Man” (TCM, 1:45 a.m.), “The Thin Man Goes Home” (TCM, 3:30 a.m.) and “Song of the Thin Man” (TCM, 5:15 a.m.).

Arizona State takes on Boise State in the The Maaco Bowl (ESPN, 8 p.m.) from Las Vegas.

In the NFL, it’s Texans at Colts (NFL, 8 p.m.).

In college basketball, it’s Memphis at Georgetown (ESPN2, 7 p.m.), Illinois vs.  Missouri (ESPN2, 9 p.m.) and Kansas at USC (FSN, 11 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly Ripa: Aaron Eckhart, John Luguizamo, James Marsden, Andy Cohen (rerun). The View: Kenneth Branagh, Jim Caras. The Talk: Jamie Oliver, Allison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. Ellen DeGeneres: David Beckham, Jane Lynch, Maya Rudolph, Lady Antebellum (rerun). Wendy Williams: Patricia Heaton, Boyz II Men (rerun).

Late Talk

David Letterman: Anderson Cooper, Lindsey Vonn, Childish Gambino. Jay Leno: Jonah Hill, Chris Paul, Il Volo. Jimmy Kimmel: Jeremy Renner, Judy Greer, Chevelle (rerun). Jimmy Fallon: Jerry O’Connell, Jeff Musial, the Rockettes. Craig Ferguson: Kyra Sedgwick, Frankie Ballard. Tavis Smiley: Robert Blake. Carson Daly: Gavin Rossdale, Lloyd Kaufman, Laura Marling. Jon Stewart: Ben Lowry (rerun). Stephen Colbert: The Black Keys (rerun). Conan O’Brien: Thomas Haden Church, Claire Smith, Glen Campbell. Chelsea Handler: Charlize Theron, Ben Gleib, Natasha Leggero, Ross Mathews (rerun).

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